News24 Wire
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6 minute read
20 Aug 2019
8:53 am

A year on, state capture inquiry continues to hear testimony

News24 Wire

Since the start of the commission, inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has heard some startling testimony.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Picture: Refilwe Modise

The Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture officially began its hearings on this day in 2018.

A year on, the inquiry is still top of mind for many as witnesses continue to share damning allegations and millions tune into TV broadcasts or online live streams.

Since the start of the commission, inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has heard some startling testimony.

And others have even suggested that Zondo should extend the scope of the commission to include all arms of the state.

On Monday, ANC national executive committee member and Deputy Minister of State Security Zizi Kodwa said allegations against the judiciary should also be before the commission.

He said numerous institutions, including law enforcement agencies in the country, were captured and this showed South Africa was well on its way to becoming a “mafia” state.

Here is some of the memorable testimony:

Angelo Agrizzi

The former chief operations officer turned whistleblower was the first witness to testify at the beginning of 2019 and the many bombshells he dropped, implicating senior politicians, shocked the country.

These included allegations of extensive corruption involving several government ministers – among them Nomvula Mokonyane and Gwede Mantashe – as well as ANC MPs, journalists, and union officials.

Agrizzi testified that Bosasa (now African Global Operations) colluded with senior officials for more than 10 years, doctoring tender documents to help the company score lucrative contracts with the state.

Agrizzi also revealed that confidential National Prosecuting Authority documents were leaked to Bosasa, particularly to CEO Gavin Watson, by Linda Mti, the former correctional services commissioner. Mti allegedly got the documents from the NPA’s Nomgcobo Jiba and Jackie Lepinka.

Nhlanhla Nene

Nhlanhla Nene fell on his sword as minister of finance and also resigned following his testimony before the commission in which he backtracked on previous remarks about meeting the Guptas in social gatherings. He testified that he had met the controversial brothers several times between 2009 and 2014.

In the days after his testimony, there was pressure on him to resign, and on President Cyril Ramaphosa to remove him.

Mcebisi Jonas

Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas made some shocking claims at the inquiry when he said one of the Guptas threatened to kill him. He detailed his apparent meeting with one of the Gupta brothers at the family mansion in Saxonwold in October 2015 and events that followed the meeting.

According to him, a man he believed to be Ajay Gupta offered him Nene’s job if he agreed to help the family increase their earnings from the fiscus through various entities, including Eskom, Transnet and government departments, from R6 billion to R8 billion.

He also told the commission that the Hawks wanted to “kill” the corruption case the DA and Cope had opened, and that then finance minister, Nene, was fired in 2015 because he was blocking the nuclear deal.

Vytjie Mentor

During her testimony before the commission, Vytjie Mentor claimed the Guptas offered her the public enterprises ministerial position at their Saxonwold compound. Mentor told the commission that Ajay Gupta had offered her the post on condition that she, in turn, would agree to drop the SAA Johannesburg to Mumbai route so that the Gupta-linked Jet Airways could benefit.

She also claimed that she was introduced to one of the Gupta brothers by Duduzane Zuma – the son of the former president – and that he was in the Gupta compound when she had the meeting with Ajay.

However, she later made a U-turn after she admitted that she may have incorrectly identified a man she was introduced to by Duduzane Zuma as Fana Hlongwane.

In a letter to the commission, Mentor admitted that she made an error in identifying Hlongwane.

Former president Jacob Zuma

In much-anticipated testimony, former president Jacob Zuma told the commission that there had been a conspiracy to remove him since the 1990s.

Zuma, who was implicated by several witnesses, started by giving the inquiry background to his evidence. He claimed there was a long-running conspiracy to remove him.

“There has been a drive to remove me from the scene. A wish that I should disappear,” he said during his testimony.

“I have been vilified, alleged to be the king of corrupt people. I have been given every other name and I have never responded to those issues. Firstly, because I believe it is important that we all respect one another.”

Zuma said in the 1990s he received an intelligence report which stated that there were three intelligence organisations that met and discussed him. He did not name the organisations.

Zuma, who was the chief of intelligence of the ANC at the time, said the three organisations started a process of “character assassination” against him. Zuma also named former mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi as a spy “who was recruited in Lesotho”.

The former president twice referred to Ramatlhodi’s own comments to the commission in November last year, when he accused Zuma of having “auctioned” the country to the Gupta family.

Ngoako Ramatlhodi

The former mineral resources minister told the commission that the infamous Gupta family would summon ministers and the president to their homes and “boast about it”.

Ramatlhodi further told the inquiry that former ministers Des van Rooyen and Mosebenzi Zwane used to camp out at the Gupta compound before their appointments.

“The Guptas wanted government departments to meet business people at their home in Cape Town,” he testified. He also claimed the Guptas disrespected and insulted the former president.

Ramatlhodi said he believed Zuma had to maintain the Gupta friendship, regardless of the consequences.

Bruce Koloane

Former chief of state protocol Bruce Koloane admitted that he abused the powers of his office to facilitate the Gupta Waterkloof landing in 2013, but he did not have control of diplomatic channels.

Koloane said he abused the power of his office when he put pressure on senior officials to clear the landing at the restricted facility. He also said he neglected normal administrative processes to allow the Gupta family to land their wedding guests at the Waterkloof air force base.

Following his testimony, the DA wanted him to be recalled as South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands. The party’s MP who focuses on international relations, Darren Bergman, said: “Ambassador Koloane’s actions were a direct breach of our national security and a violation of the National Key Point Act as he oversaw the landing of a civilian plane at a national key point.”

EFF leader Julius Malema outside the Zondo commission

During the testimony of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan in November 2018, EFF leader Julius Malema identified specific journalists whom he accused of protecting Gordhan.

Malema also accused the media of ignoring the EFF’s allegations that Gordhan’s daughter was in business with the state.

At the time, Malema said: “These crooks, who are calling themselves journalists, are sitting with those questions they have never asked Pravin. The deputy president of the EFF came here yesterday and spoke.

“Instead of repeating those quotes, they asked Pravin: ‘Why is the EFF attacking you?’ I want the EFF leadership from today and the membership to know we are not answering any question[s] from Tiso Blackstar, the Daily Maverick, Scorpio, and which ask us about our wives, about our relatives, about anyone we know, until they ask Pravin these questions in a live interview.”

Malema likened the media to the apartheid government’s “Stratcom” disinformation campaign and called Tiso Blackstar “hypocrites”.

Sanef and five senior journalists have taken the EFF and Malema to court for the “intimidation” of journalists.

Judgment was reserved in the matter.

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